Jul 6, 2017

Venture capital's problem with covering up sexual harassment

Beneath the last few month's headlines about sexual harassment in venture capital, another theme has emerged: The cover-ups.

Why it matters: Although more women are finding the courage to come forward publicly with their stories, much of this can be undermined by company efforts to cover up the misconduct, especially via legal means like non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements. When firms work to protect the transgressors' professional image and opportunities, they're saying that the men's careers are more important than the women's safety.

The cover-ups:

  • Binary Capital, the VC firm co-founded by Justin Caldbeck, long denied rumors about his misconduct to everyone from the press to business partners. Co-founder Jonathan Teo initially denied knowing anything about the stories floating around about his partner. Moreover, a former employee has filed a lawsuit alleging that she was pressured and threatened to not discuss her experience at the firm after she left.
  • Lightspeed Venture Partners, where Caldbeck was previously a partner, had a female entrepreneur sign a non-disparagement agreement about his conduct toward her. Lighspeed also kept quiet about Caldbeck's actions when he left to start his own firm, actually serving as a reference for prospective investors.
  • 500 Startups, whose co-founder Dave McClure recently resigned after allegations against him surfaced in the NY Times, didn't tell employees of the changes in management following an internal investigation, according to (now former) partner Elizabeth Yin. It also didn't disclose the investigation to employees, she says.

Proposed solutions: Groups of entrepreneurs and investors, plus one major limited partner trade group, have started to draft policies and codes of conduct that would mandate the disclosure of such allegations. Many have also called for investment firms and companies to end the practice of non-disclosure agreements that commonly prevent women from speaking up about misconduct.

Go deeper

The right and left internet loves Anthony Fauci

Data: Newswhip; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

If you feel like you're suddenly spending a surprising amount of your days thinking and talking about Anthony Fauci, you're not alone. He's become the third-most talked about person online, according to data from NewsWhip provided to Axios.

Why it matters: Fauci, the director of the National Institutes of Health office that deals with infectious diseases, has quickly become a household name, and one of the few household names with (mostly) bipartisan credibility.

The push to multiply limited medical supplies

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Health care workers and the federal government are scrambling to stretch limited supplies of medical equipment.

Why it matters: We can’t manufacture enough medical masks or ventilators in time to meet the enormous surge in demand that's expected to hit in mid-April. The next-best thing is trying to make what we have last as long as possible.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,014,673 — Total deaths: 52,973 — Total recoveries: 210,335Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 244,678 — Total deaths: 5,911 — Total recoveries: 9,058Map.
  3. 2020 updates: The Democratic National Committee said its July convention will be postponed until August because of the coronavirus. A federal judge declined to delay Wisconsin's April 7 primary election.
  4. Jobs latest: Coronavirus unemployment numbers are like a natural disaster hitting every state.
  5. Public health latest: Anthony Fauci called for all states across the U.S. to issue stay-at-home orders. The FDA will allow blood donations from gay men after 3-month waiting period, citing "urgent need."
  6. Business latest: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said oil companies are eligible for aid from new lending programs the Federal Reserve is setting up, but not direct loans from his department.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Navy removes captain of aircraft carrier who sounded alarm about coronavirus.
  8. 1 future thing: In developing countries, consequences of COVID-19 could be deeper and far more difficult to recover from.
  9. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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